Happy Halloween (Samhain)! 7 Ways To Celebrate This Ancient Festival....

Autumn is a magical time of year and Halloween celebrations seem to go hand-in-hand with the season. Still, if you're not a big fan of scary films or the apparent silliness of fancy dress parties, there are other ways to approach and enjoy this annual festival.

Here are 7 ancient Scottish ways to celebrate Halloween, once known as Samhain, which according to many historians, means 'summer’s end'...

* light up the darkness with a gathering round the bonfire - or light protective candles and lanterns - as we transition into deepest winter…

* it’s the end of harvest time, so bring together your loved ones and celebrate with a great banquet 

* the veil between us and the spirits is thinnest, so reflect on your ancestors, set them a place by the fire and honour them at your feast

* impersonating the souls of the dead - aka dressing up - is traditionally a ritual for protection from mischievous spirits and bringing good fortune

* go guising to collect offerings for the spirits and treats for the feast

* thought by many to be the ‘celtic new year’ - this is the perfect time for casting out the old, bringing in the new and meditating on life. It’s a time for love divination (bobbing for apples, anyone?) and fortune telling.

* ….or, since the festival lasts a full day - from nightfall on 31st October to midnight on 1st November - it’s perfect for partying into the wee small hours!

Happy Halloween! xoxo

Image via Pinterest

Spellbound At Split Rock (Clachtoll)

I adore a holiday during the enchanting season of autumn and this spellbinding view is the reason we booked a week at Split Rock Croft House.  Our stay in this special place was everything we hoped for and more...

Off the main road from Ullapool to Lochinver, a 6 mile single track leads to the hidden treasure of Clachtoll, with its scattering of crofts and fisherman's cottages overlooking the summer isles and the wild atlantic. 

Three sandy beaches are a 1, 3 and 5 minute walk from the garden. Sea views and reflections of the water are visible all around the house. 

Regular wanderings across the land to our nearest beach - carved so close to the garden gate it is almost within touching distance - were shared with little piglets, highland cows and sheep. Undulating fields, like elemental furrows above the cliffs, seem to mimic the rolling waves below, as if frozen into form during a sudden ice storm. 

A short walk away, we discovered an old salmon fishing station, which overlooks the biblical 'clachtoll', a slab of sloping rock, split in two by forces of nature and defiant against its descent into the sea. A wander along the boardwalk leads back to Flossie's Beach Store and warming mugs of real coffee.

A short drive away, the Clachtoll road leads to the simple amenities of Lochinver, or onto another single track, revealing the pristine beach at Achmelvich. Heading in the other direction, the back road to Kylesku is an unnerving drive through rocky moorland, beyond the sweeping sands and open atlantic at Clashnessie.

Back in our luxurious home-from-home, our crofting hosts provided an abundance of logs for the wood burner, home-grown vegetables - parsnips, carrots, onions, cabbage - and the freshest eggs from their own hens. So, we were easily inspired to cook and bake in the fabulously equipped kitchen, before dining overlooking panoramic sea views, then curling up with a wee dram in front of the cosy fire. When we fancied a no-cook night, the obvious choice was a selection of the much celebrated pies from Lochinver Larder. Our hosts organised local, creel-caught prawns from Lochinver boat 'The Fortitude' too - a memorable, scrumptious final holiday supper. 

This is a place for wandering, pondering, reading, beach combing, favourite films, evocative soundtracks, feasting, hot chocolates and drams. Mostly though, it's for curling up by open french windows, watching and listening to the ever changing moods of the atlantic ocean; then, as the sun descends, looking upwards to find that darkness has revealed a new moon and bright constellations scattered across the western sky. Magical. xo

Book the house or cottage and learn more via airbnb.co.uk/rooms/7443019

This Ship Has Sailed! Goodbye Summer (+ a short film)

(Repost from The Fisherman's Larder, October 2017)

This week, we mark the end of another summer season for The Fisherman's Larder. We've had a great few months, producing hand-prepared dressed crab and sourcing just-caught, local, sustainable shellfish from hard-working fisherman out of Pittenweem and around the East Neuk. Once again, our delicious seafood has found its way to many loyal, regular and brand new clients. Thank you all for your support.

We've also had a great time hosting demonstrations and attending local markets and events. Highlights include Anstruther Harbour FestivalA Taste Of Summer at Ardross, Bowhouse Market, our own charity event, The Mermaid Cafe, our photo shoot with Dom at Duke Photography and last - but not least - filming with Stuart at Granite Creative Productions.

During the last couple of months, Stuart has joined Jim behind the scenes at The Fisherman's Larder to discover how our shellfish finds its way '...out of the sea, onto your plate'. During filming, both Stuart and Jim accompanied fisherman Richard Scott on board his boat The Fiona S, to see Jim diving back into his element: hauling in creels and landing the catch. Later, Stuart followed Jim on deliveries up and down the coast, with stops including Ardross Farm Shop in Elie, East Pier Smokehouse in St Monans, The FMA Fish Shop at Pittenweem Fish Market and the award-winning Anstruther Fish Bar. Finally, we served up an alfresco seafood lunch in our back garden, to showcase the simple pleasure of enjoying locally caught, sustainable seafood.

So, as we say goodbye to another action-packed summer season, we're delighted to reveal the final cut of our short film, a celebration of seafood, which beautifully captures the essence of The Fisherman's Larder....

Free Lunch Society (Basic Citizens Income Voice Over)

I'm so delighted to share the explainer video I recently voiced to highlight ’Free Lunch Society’, a film about Basic Citizens Income, created by Moving Docs. The explainer was produced by Ben at Film & Campaign

Basic Citizens Income is a concept I love - so doing my job was even more of a pleasure than usual! Also, since the project was not-for-profit and aligned perfectly with my Ethical Voice policy, it benefited from 50% reduced rates. If you'd like to find out more, go to vickywatt.co.uk.

Free Lunch Society - thanks again for involving me in such an exciting, progressive campaign.

Come On Down To The Mermaid Cafe...

Ahoy!  It’s been a busy weekend for The Fisherman's Larder!

We’ve just hosted ’The Mermaid Cafe' - our ‘sail out’, pop-up event in aid of RNLI (Anstruther RNLI Station)  
and British Divers Marine Life Rescue.

The Mermaid Cafe welcomed 30 adults and 14 children into our driftwood garden for an alfresco celebration of the sea - with a mouth-watering menu featuring locally sourced, sustainably caught seafoodhomegrown vegetables & herbs and local, artisan ingredients. And the weather held fast for us all day!

We’re delighted to confirm that we raised £300 for two courageous charities - both saving lives at sea!

Scroll through the images to view our official invitation and finalised menu. Also, take a peek behind the scenes of our outdoor venue, via images from a pre-event photo shoot with Duke Photography. There are also a couple of post-event shots of Jim and crew enjoying the ‘after show’ party!


Darnley's Gin (for bringing their gin home to the East Neuk Of Fife! Now distilled at Kingsbarns Distillery & Visitor Centre, we loved using the spiced variety as the base for our seaside gin and garden strawberry fizz)

*Vegware (who create a range of completely compostable  disposables, ensuring that parties and events don’t have to cost the earth - or the ocean)

*East Neuk Shellfish + Fisherman Tam (who donated scrumptious, just-caught local shellfish)

*Pittenweem Chocolate Company (who donated their divine Salt + Caramel Chocolate, handmade in Pittenweem)

*The Golf Hotel Crail for lending us glassware and The Spindrift Guest House for lending us extra tables.

*Our fabulous guests - who quickly booked their spaces, travelled from all over the East Neuk, as far afield as Aviemore, Glasgow and Uruguaybraved a chilly September afternoon and gave generously to our two amazing charities. You were brilliant. THANK YOU! 

*Dominic Ibbotson at Duke Photography (whose stunning images say it all!)

*Event produced by Acoustic Wave - boutique media, marketing & entertainment studio


These incredible charities are saving seafarers and marine life everyday
Find out more at rnli.org and bdmlr.org.uk.

Hopefully, The Mermaid Cafe will swim into Pittenweem again next spring. Until then, bon voyage…

Real Simple Notes On Real Happy Nappies....

Part 1: Real Nappy Philosophy
Part 2: Quick Notes / Checklist
Part 3 - In Depth: Notes From Personal Experience

Part 1 - Real Nappy Philosophy

You're having a baby. Congratulations! So much to think about...

You work through lists of what you'll need - and nappies are pretty much top of the list. It crosses your mind to choose reusable cloth (aka real) nappies

Top reasons include:-

  • reducing the negative impact of 'throw away' society on our planet
  • you've heard they're better for baby
  • trying to spend less money over the approx 2.5 years you'll be using them

So, maybe you mention it to one or two friends. Maybe they roll their eyes, snort or mumble something along the lines of "just you wait, there'll be no time for that." Your confidence is knocked and you think better of it. 

Except, wait. Didn't many of our parents and all previous generations do it? With all their kids? And didn't they do it without the benefit of modern technology? Exactly! They did do it! It was normal until marketing firms for disposable nappy manufactuers got into our heads. Many people all over the world are still using cloth nappies - although the marketing people are trying to change that. In spite of this, lots of us are now returning to cloth nappies. Why? Because the benefits of cloth nappies are REAL. 

The key to success is research.  Terrified of getting it wrong and wasting money, I did weeks of research. So, here are my 'nappy notes'. Up front,  I can honestly say my experience with real nappies has been straight-forward. I was intimidated in the beginning, because back then, I was terrified of everything related to being a new mum. After a few nappy changes though,  it was absolutely fine - even with some road trips and holidays thrown in! 

Disclaimer: I know there are some people, for various reasons, who have unexpected, out-of-the-ordinary difficulties in early parenthood and for them, the thought of using/washing/drying cloth nappies - in addition to everything else on their plate - is enough to tip them over the edge. This is understandable - only you know your limits.  On the other hand, many people give it a go and discover it's no more hassle than the other little routines we fit into life - like washing our hair, taking a shower or doing the shopping. And, we can become very enthusiastic about real nappies too! Hard to believe, but true. So please, don't knock it till you've given it a go... 

Part 2 - Quick Notes / Check List

Newborn - Up To A Year

Use muslin squares 
Put a nappy liner in it. You can also source reusable ones, if you prefer. 
Wrap nappy round baby. Secure with 'Nappy Nippa'.
Add a waterproof nappy cover 
Change ever 2-4 hours, gradually reducing to 3-4 hours.
At night time, use bamboo cotton terry squares instead of muslins because they're more absorbent. 
Add a bamboo booster too - this can be useful day and night, for extra absorbency.

A Few Months Old - Onwards

Switch to a shaped, sized nappy like bamboozle by tots bots. 
Use a nappy liner during the day and a booster and nappy liner at night.  
Wear with waterproof nappy cover.

What You Need For Nappy Changes

Little Bin: for throw away items.
Nappy bucket with a couple of mesh bags  for lining the bucket.
Wipes/Cleaning: compostable ones and/or reusable ‘cheeky wipes’
Washing and Drying: 60 degree wash and either line dry or tumble dry. 
Reduce environmental impact of washing/drying by switching to Ecotricity
If you really need to use disposables, these are an eco-friendlier option. 
Nappy wash bag for storing dirty nappies out and about. 

Other Information

You'll typically need 10-12 nappies per day, reducing gradually over the months.
3-5 waterproof nappy covers (may need to get next size up when your baby is older
Get lots of great reviews and advice from thenappylady.co.uk 

Part 3 In Depth: Notes From Personal Experience

When the baby is newborn, you’re taking a chance buying a batch of shaped all-in-one nappies because they may not be right size/shape/fit for your baby. Also, if you buy them for a newborn, you’ll have to keep buying a size up as they grow. This can get expensive. So, consider using muslin square nappies to start with. While any kind of nappy may result in leaks, I found the muslins to be very reliable. Muslin squares are thinner than terry towels and can be fitted around your baby’s shape. Here’s how you’d use them...

1) First, buy a big pack of muslins - available in cute colours!

2) Shape your muslin square into a folded nappy.  I recommend the one called bat/chinese/butterfly fold.  It creates a thicker middle for absorbency and uses up fabric where it’s needed - great for newborns. And it’s easy to do after a few tries. Learn more here. Practice in advance. If you’re keen to be organised, keep a few folded nappies ready to go. This saves time/panic when you’re actually changing in a hurry.

3) Put a nappy liner inside it.  These are paper but shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet as they're quite thick and can clog your pipes. They're good for containing poo when it stops being runny. Here are the ones I use. You can also source reusable ones, if you prefer. Place your baby on the nappy and secure with something called a ‘nappy nippa’ - way safer/nicer than using a safety pin.

4) Put a waterproof nappy cover on top.  I use Motherease Airflow or Motherease Rikki. 

5) Change every 2-4 hours to begin with and every 3-4 hours after a few months. What to do with poo? In the early days, it's pretty runny and gets absorbed into the nappy. Remove the liner and any poo on it and throw out in a little bag. You could rinse a heavily soiled nappy before washing.  As your child gets older, the poo will become more solid. So, you can tip it into the toilet and flush away before disposing of the paper liner, as above. Some people have no issue putting it straight in the bin, headed for landfill, but ideally, it should be processed through a sewage system.

6) As baby gets older, for an extra layer of absorbency - add a bamboo booster underneath the liner of all daytime nappies.

Back to the nappy. Here's a 'fold-your-own' muslin square nappy I made earlier, modelled by Ted...

Night Time 

At night, you may need more absorbency than the muslins, so buy a few bamboo cotton terry squares and do same routine as above. Bamboo is even more absorbent than ordinary cotton. Note, they take slightly longer to dry. You can add a bamboo booster too.

A Few Months Old - Onwards 

Your baby will be growing out of the handy ‘bat/chinese/butterfly fold’ - and baby will be needing changed less often too. This may be a good time to treat yourself to a batch of handy, pre-shaped nappies. These are much better absorbency for older babies and by now, your baby should be big enough to fit the standard sizes.  I love bamboozle by tots bots. - made in Scotland! I still include a nappy liner during the day and a booster and nappy liner at night.  You still put the waterproof nappy cover over the top. Or, you can trial the all-in-one kind with the waterproof cover, built in. What to do with all the old muslin and terry squares?  They're great for washing floors, mopping spills etc. 

What You Need For Nappy Changes 

1) Little Bin: I use compost food bags as biodegradable bin liners! They still go to landfill but I hope they're a slight improvement on little plastic bags.  Use these bags for disposing of nappy liners, throw-away wipes etc. 

2) Nappy Bucket: you'll need a big nappy bucket and a couple of mesh bags  for lining the bucket. Note, you don’t need to soak dirty nappies, just put them in the bucket and when you’re ready, wash on 60 degrees. Then, ideally, tumble dry, which helps the nappies to stay soft. ECOTIP: If you feel guilty about using up all that precious energy, switch to a renewable electricity provider, like Ecotricity

3) Wipes/Cleaning: Sometimes, disposable wipes are really handy, especially when you're out and about. These compostable ones are good.  However, mostly, you can use resusable ‘cheeky wipes’ and wash them with your nappies. Keep them in a little tupperware box, pre-soaked, ready to use, then throw in the nappy bin.

4) Washing and Drying: I wash nappies, wipes etc once a day. As mentioned before, I usually put a load on at 60 degree wash, after the first nappy change in the morning and then they go in the tumble dryer. Some people buy more nappies and wash less often. Some people use disposables when travelling. In some cases, this might be the only practical solution, if you're not staying in self-catering accommodation or with good friends. I bought these disposables - the most eco-friendly I could find - for when I was in hospital. 

5) How Many Nappies? To begin with, you'll need to use around 10-12 nappies a day. This number will gradually reduce over time.  It's a great reason to start with cheap, muslin squares or terry towels and 3-5 waterproof nappy covers.

6) Out and About: you'll need a waterproof 'nappy washbag' to store any used nappies. Some baby changing bags come with these. 

Additional Informatoin

I got virtually all useful information from reading reviews and advice at thenappylady.co.uk . So many people who use this website are already big fans of cloth nappies, so their comments will give you confidence and help you see how straight-forward it can be.

And Finally…

Hope these short (not so short) 'nappy notes' have been handy. Again, for whatever reason, real nappies may not work for you but it's working for my family and I'm really glad we went down this route. So, wherever possible, I hope to encourage and inspire others to do the same.  It saves a financial fortune and literally, it doesn't cost the earth. I've changed about 3500 nappies so far - without any going to landfill - and these cloth nappies are all still in use, one way or another.  What's not to love? 

Here's to keeping it real!

Good luck, best wishes and happy nappies! 

Vicky xo

Save The Date! The Fisherman's Larder @ Bowhouse Food Weekend...

Date For Your Diary! Catch The Fisherman's Larder​ at Bowhouse​ Food Weekend on Sunday 24th September - a laid-back, vibrant + bustling indoor market celebrating artisan makers and producers from in and around Fife.

Beneath the roof of an impressively converted barn, imagine sizzling street-food and off-the-beaten-track delicacies, mouth-watering aromas, rain-proof picnic areas,  gourmet ingredients, demonstrations,  a treasure trove of take-home treats, local craft drinks, children’s entertainment…oh, and a favourite with seafood…prosecco!

We’ll be there with our shellfish - ready-to-eat or take home - sustainably caught in creels from waters just a hop, skip and a sail from the Bowhouse venue.

From The Fisherman’s Larder: hand-picked and hand-prepared dressed crab (with no additives), decadent mini lobster cocktail pots, cooked lobster and cooked crab!

Discover more and whet your appetite at facebook.com/BowhouseFife/
Or go straight to the Bowhouse Food Weekend.

thefishermanslarder.co.uk …out of the sea, onto your plate.